20 min
serves 2-3
Tomato gratin is an old-fashioned dish – why was this ever forgotten? It can make even supermarket tomatoes taste good, but when made with dead-ripe garden tomatoes, it's sublime. Layers of garlicky toasted bread crumbs absorb juice and provide a nice crunch.
  • 2 large tomatoes, very ripe
  • 1 large slice sturdy bread
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 ounces cheese of your choice (may be omitted), grated

Tomato gratin is an easy and forgiving dish – but don’t try to make a huge pan of it! It’s better, if you’d like to double this recipe, to make two smaller dishes rather than one large one. In order to cook long enough to get the center of a large (13×9) pan of gratin thoroughly hot, the tomatoes at the edges would cook too much, and their taste and texture would suffer.

prepare oven and baking dish

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly grease a small shallow baking dish 7-8 inches in diameter.

toast garlic with bread crumbs

If you have large bread crumbs stored, you’re in business! But if you don’t, they are easy to make. Take a slice of sturdy bread, and grate it, or chop it, or whiz it in a blender, to produce rough craggy bread crumbs. Mince the garlic.

Heat a bit of oil or butter (or both) in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is very fragrant but NOT brown. Add the bread crumbs and toss gently until the bread crumbs are coated. Set these aside while you grate or finely chop the cheese. (I like gruyere or aged Gouda best but Parmesan or Romano work very well also.)

slice tomatoes and assemble gratin

Core the tomatoes and slice them about ¼ inch thick. Arrange half the tomato slices on the bottom of the dish, overlapping them only slightly. Use the ugliest pieces on the bottom, where they won’t be seen. Season with salt and pepper, add half the garlicky bread crumbs, then half cheese. Repeat: you’ll end up with two layers of tomatoes, each layer topped with bread crumbs and cheese.

bake in hot oven

Bake in a hot oven just until the crumbs are browned, the cheese is melted, and you can’t stand the good smell any more and have to attack it.

to increase the recipe

If you want more servings, use a larger dish, because you still need to make each layer 1 tomato slice thick, and keep it to at most three layers. You want the tomatoes to heat through, but you do not want to burn the cheese and crumbs on top!

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1 Response

  1. My mom used to make that. Haven’t thought of it in years. I’ll be making it as soon as I pick up some big tomatoes.

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